What Is Post Acute Care?

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Acute care refers to health care provided for a life threatening condition. It often involves the use of life support or other intensive care services. The type of care provided after a period of acute care is known as post-acute care.

Patients need to stay at the hospital after their acute care has finished.
Patients need to stay at the hospital after their acute care has finished.

Function

The function of post-acute care is to provide for the medical and emotional needs of people who are well enough to be out of a traditional hospital setting, but not well enough to return home.

A nurse attending to a patient.
A nurse attending to a patient.

Time Frame

In some cases, post-acute care is temporary and continues only until the patient has recovered enough to be discharged. In other cases, the need for post-acute care persists throughout the remainder of the patient's life.

Types of Post-Acute Care

Some hospitals offer post-acute care or long-term care floors. Some patients leave hospitals and receive care in skilled nursing facilities. Returning home with the aid of a home health nurse may also be an option.

An in-home nurse with her patient.
An in-home nurse with her patient.

Features

Post-acute care involves helping a patient perform daily routine tasks such as eating, bathing and dressing as well as administering medications and monitoring vital signs. Often, post-acute care involves rehabilitation, such as physical or occupational therapy.

Nurses also help with physical therapy.
Nurses also help with physical therapy.

Considerations

While post-acute care is beneficial and necessary, it is also expensive. The average cost of a private room in a skilled care nursing home is $192 per day or more than $70,000 per year, according to Helpguide.org.

Post-acute care is very expensive.
Post-acute care is very expensive.

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